34 Then Peter began to speak to them: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36 You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all. 37 That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39 We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; 40 but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, 41 not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
Have a Blessed Holy Week! And – Happy Easter!
This reading from Acts is our New Testament reading for Easter. Easter is my favorite day of the year. Easter typically occurs when winter has finally released its firm grip, and there are signs of Spring throughout the neighborhood. On Easter, my daughter always wears her lovely Easter dress and my son will wear a suit and there will be family pictures taken that will treasured for years and decades to come. On Easter, we also sing my favorite hymns and the church is filled with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. On Easter, there I also get to enjoy lots of chocolate and other tasty treats. As great as all these things are, I am keenly aware that they are not the reason we celebrate Easter. It is of the upmost importance for everyone to understand the actual meaning of Easter, and Peter’s declaration from Acts does a wonderful job of teachings us. Peter preaches the complete Gospel by telling us that Jesus of Nazareth was anointed and chosen by God. He received the Holy Spirit and with its power he goes around doing good and healing those who were oppressed. He was put to death, dying on a tree. God raised him on the third day and he appeared to a chosen few. Everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins.
I also want to point out that a key aspect of Peter’s sermon is that this Gospel is for everyone. Peter declares that God shows no partiality and consistently uses the vocabulary words, “all,” and “everyone.” Professor Kaalund reminds us. “as we celebrate the most holy of our religious observances, the Resurrection of our Lord, let us be reminded that his salvific act was for everyone. Let us remember that the path that Jesus created for us brings us to the presence of a loving God who accepts us all. Let us join with the prophets and testify about the one and emulate his life by living a life where we can be described by others as going about doing good and healing those around us because God is with us. He is not only our Lord; he is the Lord of all.” 
OMG LENTEN AND HOLY WEEK SERVICES & EVENTS
OMG is a trio of ELCA churches in the Virginia and Mt. Iron area that have come together to offer the following services and events during Lent and Easter. Come join us!
Holy Week Services& Events
April 17 *Confirmation Students & Families Seder Meal, 6:30pm Messiah Lutheran Church
April 18 Maundy Thursday Foot Washing & *Seder Meal, 6:30pm Messiah Lutheran Church
April 19 Good Friday Services, 12:00pm & 6:30 pm Our Savior’s Lutheran Church
*Seder Meals will be RSVP events.
There will also be an Easter Egg Hunt at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church Sunday morning at 8:30am. If we are blessed to have nice weather, we will meet outside in the back of the church, if not, we will meet in the west wing of the building. This event is open to everyone, so join us if you can! *All candy items will be nut-free to avoid allergy issues.
9:30am – Our Savior’s Lutheran Church
10:00am Messiah Lutheran Church
9:00am & 10:45am – Gethsemane Lutheran Church
We are planning an Easter Egg Hunt this Sunday at 8:30am, and you are invited! Bring a basket for all who will participate, and fill them with toys & candy. We hope it will be nice this weekend, and we can meet outdoors in our backyard area, but if not, we will meet in the west wing of our church building. Hope to see you there! *All candy will be nut-free to avoid food allergy issues.
Next week, Friday, April 26th and Saturday, April 27th will be our $0.25 Clothing Sale.
Friday hours will be 8:30am – 4pm
Saturday hours will be 8:30am – 12pm
Tell your neighbors & friends!
*If you desire to help set up, join us Thursday during the day in our Fellowship Hall – thank you! Proceeds from this sale go directly to community ministry projects.
1 Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 2 There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. 3 Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, 5 “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” 6 (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) 7 Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. 8 You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”
What an amazing text for Sunday. Jesus is being anointed for burial in this passage. Whenever this reading comes up in the lectionary- you know Holy Week is approaching.
This reading is located in the 12th chapter. Contextually, there is plotting of Jesus’ death going on amongst his adversaries. Jesus has spoken about his death and resurrection, and people are plotting. It is not a secret and anybody paying attention to what is going on is aware “something is going to happen soon.” Mary is aware. She is preparing his body for burial. Her action is selfless and caring. I think Judas is aware also. He currently has a financially good thing going. He is in charge of the communal purse and he helps himself to whatever he wants. This arrangement is about to be over. He is concerned about padding the purse as much as possible in these last few days in order to skim as much as possible. His action is selfish and dishonest.
There is so much to discuss and learn from these verses, but in a big picture sort of way it points to how “we,” as followers of Jesus can/should respond to future challenges. Even when life is difficult and painful, do we respond selflessly or selfishly. Essentially, everything that happens to us in life, the good and bad, can be approached as an opportunity to care for others.
Blessings to you as we continue our Lenten reflections~ Pastor Erik
I am incredibly excited to start the season of advent with you all! The month of November was busy for our youth, and December is going to be even more eventful! Again, our Sunday school will be putting on the Christmas program on December 9th! It will be wonderful telling of Jesus’ birth—performed by all members of our program with some songs mixed in! Our children have been working diligently over the past few weeks, and are excited to show our Congregation! After our program we will spend the last few Sundays of the Advent season going over details in the Christmas story, as well as creating all sorts of crafts!
Confirmation students are in for a change with the season as well! Starting on December 5th Our Savior’s will be hosting Confirmation classes! We have had a wonderful time at Messiah, but I’m excited to bring the joy of our fellowship to our building! We had 13 youth attend the Middle School Youth Gathering at Cragun’s a few weeks ago! We had a blessed time worshipping with youth across our synod, and had a blast with all the fun activities the LYO board had planned for us! On December 12th we will have our Christmas and caroling event, which will include all of our Confirmation students going to Assisted Living Facilities to spread the Christmas cheer that is starting to build up in our hearts! Drivers are still needed for this event to help transport students to each place! Once we have sung our last carol we will come back to Our Savior’s to celebrate in fellowship with Hot Cocoa and snacks!
Our Confirmation program also hosts a meal on Wednesdays before class in which all are welcome to attend, this also means we need volunteers to help with these meals! If you have any interest please reach out to me.
I hope you all have a Merry Christmas!
Confirmation classes will start meeting at OSLC in December on Wednesdays at 6:30pm as usual!
2 Corinthians 9:11
11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
8 Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, 9 for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.
Happy Thanksgiving! This week I especially pray for you and all people to experience on overflow of generosity- both generosity from and generosity toward. I pray for you to have a generous portion of kindness, compassion, quality time, rest and relaxation, love, peace, and good food. Our national day of Thanksgiving is centered on giving thanks to God for all the blessings God has bestowed upon us. Just as God has acted generously towards each of us in our lives and faith, let us reflect God’s generous character to our families and neighbors.
God Bless you~ Pr. Erik
38 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” 39 But Jesus said, “Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. 40 Whoever is not against us is for us.
There are an estimated 40,000 different Christian denominations in the world. That is a lot! The majority of the 40,000 are small splinter groups from mainline denominations or they are unaffiliated stand-alone congregations. For me, it is interesting to think about how one Bible is the authority of so many different groups. Different groups mean different theological interpretations, different points of emphasis, and different ways of worship. A look at the nightly news and basic study of history shows that people often look towards other denominations with suspicion and even aggression. World history headlines from the past two thousand years show that these differences have directly led to, or at least played a role in major wars resulting in countless tragedies. This reading from Mark 9 firmly directs us to reexamine how we interact with and treat people from other Christian traditions. Simply stated, Jesus tells us that different is ok. The name of Jesus is what truly matters, and the name of Jesus is what transcends cultural, linguistic, and ethnic differences in order to bring all people together.
This week, I invite everyone to have a conversation with someone from a different Christian tradition to share something about church or worship style and to also learn something new about another group.
A few years ago I heard an excellent sermon which used the phrase, “remember, different people are not a failed attempt at being you. All people are unique expressions of being children of God.”
With grace~ Pastor Erik
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Every day I notice the maple tree in my front yard gets a few more red and yellow leaves on it. When the tree first started turning, I was dismayed and even a bit upset. I want to tell the tree that it is WAY too early. I’m not ready! Summer is not over yet. There are still summer events, destinations and projects on my to-do-list. Autumn means school is starting, rally day, confirmation, committee meetings, etc. Where did the time go? However, I only grumbled for a day or two, then I began viewing the colorful tree in a different way. I began viewing the tree with enthusiasm and joy, because it means that school is starting, confirmation will begin, the new committee structure will be presented and get into full action, and all the church people will be back in the pews on Sundays. Getting back into “full-church-mode” (quote from my grandma) is something to be very enthusiastic and joyful about. Full-church-mode is a good thing. It means the Spirit is active.
Speaking of my to-do-list, here are some updates I want to communicate with all of you.
- Our new Director of Youth and Christian Education, Ben Anderson, will be formally joining our ministry team on September 5th and Rally Sunday will be his first Sunday at Our Saviors! I know last December my family and I felt very welcomed by the church (I still feel very welcomed) and I know you’ll show the same generosity, kindness, and hospitality to Ben.
- Rally Sunday is Sept 9th! We will have a bouncy house, games and snacks after worship. During worship we will celebrate our youth by giving Bibles. We will also recognize the wonderful Eucharist team. Sunday school will begin the following Sunday. Full-church-mode!
- OSLC, Gethsemane, and Messiah will have confirmation together this year. This has been a big project in the making with lots of meetings and communication amongst the churches. I think that all the kids will benefit from having a large group of friends, guides, pastors and mentors walking with them in their faith journey. There are too many details to list and I am personally communicating with the confirmation families about dates and questions. It is going to be great!
- I am going to join our synod’s companion team trip to Honduras the first week in October. As you all know, Global Mission is a passion of mine and I am very excited about participating in this program. Several pastors from our synod are going to be leading theology, church administration, and pastoral-care workshops for newly ordained Honduran pastors. I will invite you to participate in a fund-raiser during September for a portion of the trip’s cost.
- Later in September, Pastor Amy Odgren from the Synod office will visit with the church councils of OSLC, Gethsemane, and Messiah and lead a visioning discussion about ministry, stewardship, and where is the Holy Spirit is leading our three congregations in the future.
I want to thank all of you for your faithfulness, grace, and kind words. There is a lot to look forward to and be excited about. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns please let me know. You are the church and I am always looking for ways to serve the church better and more efficiently.
Autumn Blessings ~ Pastor Erik
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
I hope your summer is going well. It is hard to believe August is already upon us. The past two weeks went by especially quick. I was able to spend a week visiting my family in WI as well as attend a conference at Luther Seminary entitled “Rethinking Stewardship- from solemn obligation to inspired choice.” Playing card and board games into the wee hours of the morning with my family, picking cherries with Nozomi and Ronin, enjoying nature, and watching sunrises and sunsets over the harbor were the highlights of my vacation. I am also looking forward to sharing with you what I learned at the rethinking stewardship conference. I feel like the past two weeks have refreshed by soul.
I am very grateful for the past two weeks because congregational life for the foreseeable future is shaping up to be busy and eventful. Notably, a priority for us is to find a new person to direct our youth and family ministries. We surely miss Meagan, but we excitedly await the unique gifts and talents of our next colleague in Christ. We currently have several advertisements about the position, and we are hopeful to fill the position soon. If an intriguing person comes to mind, please encourage that person to check out all the details about the position from our website or give the church office a call. I am confident in God’s guidance and joyfully looking forward to where the Holy Spirit leads us next. In the meantime, I ask for your prayers, patience and continued participation in the congregation.
I also want to use this month’s newsletter to share with you my thoughts about the ELCA churches here in the Quad Cities. For many years, there has been interest and conversation about churches collaborating in shared ministry as well as even merging together. Because merging together is a very serious subject, and there are lots of emotions and details involved I want to be as open and straight forward as possible. Interest in having these conversations and working together to develop proposals has recently been renewed. To be clear, so far there haven’t been any formal conversations about merging. I invite OSLC into an intentional time of prayer and discernment about hopes, dreams and goals. I’d like to frame this discernment in terms of stewardship. A theological point to make is the church and all its resources belongs to God. God has called us and entrusted us to use, manage, and share God’s resources as efficiently as possible. We are guided by the Holy Spirit-and God continuously invites us to participate with God in God’s mission.
Your thoughts and feedback are valuable and needed. Please share them with me. I will keep the congregation informed if any formal conversations are scheduled.
I am so blessed to be part of this loving community of faith. I am overjoyed and honored to be called to serve as your pastor, and I am excited to see what God will do next. Enjoy the rest of the summer. Enjoy your family and friends and God’s beautiful creation.
Your fellow servant in Christ~ Pastor Erik